Lentil love

For some reason, I put lentils in a little box where the only use was for stews and soups, i.e., dishes in which I cooked them to mush.  A scrumptious lentil salad (with nice, firm lentils) at a recent church potluck reminded me of the versatility and deliciousness of lentils.

As I browsed Show Me Vegan the other day, I came across this post about Snobby Joes, a vegetarian version of sloppy joes made with, you guessed it, lentils!  Seriously, you have to try this recipe — so good! Click here for the recipe at Post Punk Kitchen.

Growing up, my mom made delicious sloppy joes (except for that one time she left the pan on the stove and almost burned the house down).  I was a bit nervous about how Snobby Joes would stack up next to my memory of my mom’s sloppy joes (the kind with ground beef).  The answer?  This recipe will be part of our regular rotation from now on.

In addition to tasting great, the lentils in Snobby Joes provide lots of healthy plant protein.  On a budget?  This dish leaves you with plenty of green in your wallet.

My Variations

If you’re swimming in tomatoes right now, like we are, you can use fresh tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce and paste.  Just puree some chopped fresh tomatoes in the blender until you have at least 1 1/4 cups of tomato sauce.  This will work best if at least some of the tomatoes are paste tomatoes (less water content).  If you don’t have any paste tomatoes, simply suck out the tomato juice from the cut slices before adding to the blender.  (Alternately, you could squeeze the juice into a bowl and drink it, but Method #1 dirties fewer dishes.)

Cooking the lentils for 20 minutes is important.  More cooking, and you’ll get lentil mush.  Less cooking, and they’ll be a little crunchy.  The fear of mushy lentil scared me into under cooking mine a bit this time around, not bad, but I’ll go for the full twenty next time.

Don’t have buns?  Bread or English muffins work well also.  We enjoyed these on our homemade 100% whole wheat bread.  Open-faced creates the perfect bread to filling ratio.

Photo courtesy of our dying digital camera — gotta love planned obsolescence!

Entry to Nupur’s Blog Bites 5: Sandwiches and Wraps

While I was at work . . .

. . . (on a Saturday), someone worked hard in the garden.

Take that, weeds!

Matthew lined our garden paths with the coffee bean sacks that I painstakingly procured on my “day off” last week (the coffee bean sack saga merits another post).  Among other tasks, there was harvesting to be done.  We finally have tomatoes!

The harvest!

We made Caprese salad sandwiches with the cream of the tomato crop.  We also made gazpacho and a big batch of sauteed yellow squash with onion, garlic, tomato, okra (from the farmers’ market),  and fresh thyme & dill — lunch for the week ahead!

Her Green Soup

A couple of weeks ago, we put some beautiful Swiss chard on the stove to steam.  The other part of our dinner was ready first, and when we sat down to eat, we forgot all about the poor Swiss chard.  The too overcooked to just enjoy as-is greens became the inspiration for Her Green Soup.

I don’t really have a recipe, but here’s what went into the soup: aforementioned over-steamed Swiss chard, baby tatsoi, and garbanzo beans (pureed in broth or water); carrots, onions, yellow squash, and garlic (sauteed in olive oil); salt and pepper.  Serve warm or chilled.

We served Her Green Soup with sides of fresh corn on the cob and our beet salad and enjoyed the leftovers throughout the week.

Garden to table

The good news: I survived the potato harvest and garden day on Monday.

The bad news: We have A LOT of potatoes in the ground still.

The good news: Those potatoes look much better after Matthew completed some hard core weeding.

I experienced extreme soreness (mostly in my quads, from all the squatting) and serious exhaustion from blueberry picking on Saturday and wasn’t sure that I would make it through the garden blitz on Monday.  Somehow, I did.

We started the day with a quick stop by the inner garden (AKA our bed at the community garden).

Beets and carrots at our inner garden

Next up, THE garden (AKA the commuter garden in the ‘burbs).  We harvested potatoes from the dead or nearly dead plants and left the rest to grow a bit longer, hoping to increase our yield.  We followed that with some general maintenance, including weeding and mulching.

Left to right: winter squash, peppers (somewhat hidden), tomatoes

After working all morning, I headed into Pam’s kitchen to make a garden-to-table lunch.

Clockwise from top: Sauteed summer squash with garlic, pasta with basil pesto, roasted tricolor potatoes with dill, steamed Swiss chard with olive oil.  Pretty much everything on the plate came from our garden, most of it picked that morning — good fuel for a day of hard work!

We’re giving a garden tour to some family members this weekend.  Won’t they be surprised when we hand them shovels and pitch forks and point them in the direction of the potato patch!  Hands-on tours are the best kind, right?

Eat food

Gardens and farmers’ markets are in full swing, and, oh, the fabulous food we eat!

Some recent combos:

Stir fry with basic homemade teriyaki sauce (used fresh ginger and garlic instead of powdered) with snow peas*, broccoli*, black beans**, and edamame.  Minimal cooking keeps the snow peas nice and crunchy!

Mixed green salad* (arugula, spinach, tatsoi, red leaf lettuce) with radish*, hard boiled egg**, green onions**, and sunflower seeds.

Curry with napa cabbage**, snow peas*, rutabaga*, and yellow squash*.

We used coconut milk and red curry paste (both NOT local!) for the curry.  The chef tossed some onion and garlic in there, too.

Strawberry salad

Mixed greens*, sliced strawberries**, goat cheese**, olive oil, and our special balsamic vinegar.  Simple and delicious — good balsamic is the key!

*From the garden.

** Locally grown/raised.